India Announces New Climate Change Targets

The Indian government has committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions intensity – the ratio between gross emissions and a country’s GDP at a particular point in time – by 33-35% of its 2005 levels by 2030. To do so, India will ensure that about 40% of its electricity will come from non-fossil fuel sources. Additionally, it will increase its tree and forest cover to create an additional carbon sink of 2.5-3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.

The government has submitted these numbers to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change as its targets (technically called the Intended Nationally Determined Contribution or INDC) for the global Paris agreement, which is to be finalised by December this year. The numbers will be officially released by Union Environment and Forests minister Prakash Javadekar in Delhi today.

In 2010, India had committed to reducing the emissions intensity of its economy by 20-25% below 2005 levels by 2020.

The government has said the new emission intensity reduction targets and adapting to climate change will require approximately $2.5 trillion at 2014-15 prices between now and 2030, besides an array of technologies. It is also committed to mobilising additional finance from developed countries. It has also said that it will work to build an international architecture for diffusion of cutting edge technologies, as well as collaborative research and development for future technologies.

In its submission, the NDA government has said that “the successful implementation of INDC is contingent upon an ambitious global agreement including additional means of implementation to be provided by developed country parties, technology transfer and capacity building following Article 3.1 and 4.7 of the Convention.”

Article 3.1 of the convention refers to the principle of equity and common but differentiated responsibility and the need for the developed countries to take the lead in combating climate change. Article 4.7 of the climate convention says: “The extent to which developing country Parties will effectively implement their commitments under the Convention will depend on the effective implementation by developed country Parties of their commitments under the Convention related to financial resources and transfer of technology and will take fully into account that economic and social development and poverty eradication are the first and overriding priorities of the developing country Parties.”

Defying pressure from some nations to undertake sector specific targets, India has clarified that “… India’s INDC do not bind it to any sector specific mitigation obligation or action, including in agriculture sector. India’s goal is to reduce overall emission intensity and improve energy efficiency of its economy over time and at the same time protecting the vulnerable sectors of economy and segments of our society”.

Of the estimated total to reach the 2030 target, about $206 billion will be required for adaptation actions in agriculture, forestry, fisheries infrastructure, water resources and ecosystems. The study quotes the Asian Development Bank to note that “approximate adaptation cost for India in energy sector alone would roughly be about $7.7 billion in 2030s. The report also projects the economic damage and losses in India from climate change to be around 1.8% of its GDP annually by 2050.” It also quotes the NITI Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India) assessment that mitigation activities (greenhouse gas emissions reducing actions) would cost around $834 billion till 2030 at 2011 prices.

The document says India would undertake the emission intensity reduction and the changing of energy mix by 2030, “being sanguine about the unencumbered availability of clean technologies and financial resource from around the world.” Operationally, it says India will need to “mobilise domestic and new and additional funds from developed countries to implement the above mitigation and adaptation actions in view of the resource required and the resource gap.”

Again, in another section of the document while India lists out an array of existing and future technologies that India would require to move towards a low carbon development route it adds in the operational bit that India would “build capacities, create domestic framework and international architecture for quick diffusion of cutting edge climate technology in India and for joint collaborative R&D for such future technologies.”

The INDC begins by listing a wide array of activities India has already undertaken to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change including the ambitious target of building 175 GW of Solar and Wind Power capacity by 2022 and an enhanced energy efficiency mission cutting across industrial sectors.

It also promises to increase the share of renewable energy in the energy mix though it does not explicitly mention that about 350 GW of solar and wind power would be required to achieve the 40% non-fossil fuel power capacity – a projection the government had made to reach the INDC numbers.

The INDC mentions new initiatives the government will launch include introduction of new, more efficient and cleaner technologies in thermal power generation, reducing emissions from transportation sector, promoting energy efficiency in industry, transportation, buildings and appliances and reducing emissions from waste.

This article was originally published on Business Standard.